A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going home to visit the beautiful city of Austin, Texas. As a child, growing up there was a load fun. We had our share of harmless fun from time to time; mailbox baseball, cow tippinâ€™, and lots of small pranks of that nature. These days however, more than the populations has changed. Kids are a lot more wild now than in the past. On one of my weekend nights there, I was victimized. My friends and I had gone out for a crazy night on the town. At around one in the morning, we were ready to leave the club and head home. I told them to wait at the curb and I would run and get the car, which was conveniently parked in the alley at the rear of the club. When I entered the alley, I could see two silhouettes conversing in the corner. By the time I reached my car, they had already made it over to me. At first they seemed very polite and friendly, asking me for a match to light their cigarettes. Being the overly nice guy that I am, I dove into my car to find a match and cater to their needs. When I stood up from being inside my car, they had vanished. Next thing I know, EMTâ€™s are patching my head up. They took everything, my watch, my money, and my credit cards. I went down to the police station and, coincidentally, the police had picked up two juveniles matching their description for another crime they had just committed. It turns out the two teens had robbed me as part of their gang initiation.
In recent years, the United States has witnessed the rapid growth of youth gangs and associated violence. As a nation, we have come to recognize that there are no simple solutions to the youth gang problem. There is a need however, to identify the nature and extent of the gang problem, to prevent at-risk youth from joining gangs, to intervene with gang-involved youth to redirect their lives on a positive course, and to suppress gang-related crime. Statistics state that more than 16,000 gangs are a